90049: Brentwood- More Donations, Less Political Action
This story is part of a Neon Tommy Special Report that follows 2012 campaign money in L.A. >>>
The quiet and quaint neighborhood of Brentwood rests slightly above the rest of Los Angeles and seems far removed from the urban hustle and bustle of the rest of the city.
Brentwood is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and the amount of campaign contributions this year reflects that.
The 90049 zip code area contributed about 132 times as much as the average zip code with the total 2012 contributions amounting more than $4 million as of May 2012. During the 2008 election, the zip code donated a total of $7.7 million.
In 2012, Geoff Palmer of G.H. Palmer Associates/Real Estate, gave the most in donations: $500,000 to "Restore Our Future"- a Super PAC for Mitt Romney. In fact, Mitt Romney’s political action committee Restore Our Future is one of the top recipients of campaign donations from Brentwood this year. The other recipients of top contributions were the Republican National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Committee. The remaining contributors were individuals, including actor and comedian Will Ferrell who donated to the Democratic National Committee.
Though Brentwood gave a large amount to presidential campaigns, it does not necessarily mean that most of its residents are politically involved, according to Brentwood Community Council's chair, Nancy Freedman.
"Most people have a political preference, but they're not particularly active," said Freedman. "There are some who are very active…a very small number. And there are quite a few fundraisers."
The community is also not especially diverse and is home to a mostly white population. According to the 2009 L.A. Times project "Mapping L.A.," the percentage of white people is especially high at 84 percent, and the median household income in Brentwood is about $112,000.
In addition to being wealthy, Brentwood's population is well-educated with about 70 percent of its residents who are 25 and older holding bachelor's degrees while 30 percent of its residents hold master's degrees.
The median age in Brentwood is 39, and people who live in Brentwood tend to be older than the rest of Los Angeles.
Some recent concerns in the area have been the traffic and gridlock from construction projects, as well as care of public monuments and making sure the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center provides drug rehabiitation in addition to housing.
Brentwood is mostly residential, but it has a popular commercial district called Brentwood Village which is home to several restaurants and shops. Despite having local businesses, Brentwood does not have its own chamber of commerce. However, the Brentwood Community Council works with local government in representing the interests of Brentwood's homeowner associations, business organizations, schools, religious groups, volunteer service groups, public safety and environmental organizations.
Fari Danesh owns Fari’s, a salon located in Brentwood Village and has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years. She voted for Obama in the 2008 election and still has faith in him as a president.
“Obama is young, educated, has a lot of energy, and I believe in him,” said Danesh.
The Iranian-born business owner is most concerned about “peace in the world, education and healthcare” when it comes to politics.
According to Danesh, if the United States focused more on quality education from an early age, society would have fewer problems in the future.
Regardless of whom she votes for on the November ballot, Danesh says she will respect the president once he is elected, even if it turns out to be Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“But I just hope that whoever is in power is not too religious, because I saw that ruin my country,” said Danesh. “Religion is personal, and it should not affect others.”
Jeff Framberg, another Brentwood resident interested in national and international politics, does not typically donate to political campaigns.
The 69-year-old former accountant who has lived in Brentwood for more than 20 years values a leader with an assertive foreign policy as well as a strong fiscal policy that contributes to a growing economy.
Framberg said he plans to vote Republican; when it comes to Romney's fiscal policy, he sees it as “not great but acceptable.”
Reach Special Project Reporter Tricia Tongco here.